Heath trust crippled by £400m PFI hospital costs

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A £411m hospital built under the private finance initiative (PFI) saddled a health trust with crippling repayments, a report has found.

Peterborough City Hospital, which was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Wednesday, became operational in 2010 and aimed to 
bring services together on one site.

But a National Audit Office (NAO) report found the repayments – which totalled £41.6m last year – have placed a “considerable strain” on the Peterborough and Stamford NHS Trust’s finances as it seeks to make £64m of spending cuts by 2017.

It added that doubts over the trust’s ability to meet repayments without services suffering had been raised but ignored before construction began in 2007.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, called for “urgent action” from the trust, the Department of Health and regulators to “get the trust back on its feet”. He added: “The board developed and enthusiastically supported an unrealistic business case built on over-optimistic financial projections.”

Dr Peter Reading, the trust’s interim chief executive, acknowledged shortcomings but said it had put in place “new structures and systems to improve our financial forecasting”.